By  on March 6, 2006

NEW YORK — Nike is pumping up its sport lifestyle business, and has appointed company veteran Sandy Bodecker to the new position of vice president of the Sport Culture division.

This segment includes non-performance, directional apparel and footwear inspired largely by the company’s heritage. Some of the new looks for fall include T-shirts with Nike written in block lettering, as well as track jackets that are similar to Nike styles from the Seventies and Eighties and feature the tree logo used in some of its early products. Other styles include a cropped hooded sweatshirt, and apparel and footwear for skateboarding and action sports.

Some of the new footwear styles use such high-end materials as perch skin; one footwear collection is inspired by the company’s iconic waffle sneaker looks. The Sport Culture apparel products are sold in Bloomingdale’s, Barneys New York and Saks Fifth Avenue, and not in traditional sport chains, and range in price from about $35 for a T-shirt to $225 for some of the track jackets.

Nike doesn’t break out sales of Sport Culture, but it is a growing area.

“Building off of Nike’s global strength in sport performance, Sport Culture is a tremendous growth opportunity for us across all product types,” Nike brand president Charles Denson said in a statement. “Sport performance inspires Sport Culture. Sandy will bring greater focus and integration to our evolving efforts over the past few years, enabling us to create more complete and compelling product stories and build deeper relationships with consumers around the world who are inspired by sport.”

Bodecker, 52, who recently headed Nike’s skate division and has worked for the company for 23 years, couldn’t be reached for comment. He will report to Denson.

Last year, Nike launched a collection called Blue Ribbon Sports comprising higher-end apparel and footwear for men, and this collection also falls under the Sport Culture banner. For fall, Nike is adding some denim items to this collection.

Nike rivals Adidas and Puma have done well in recent years by offering sport-inspired lifestyle offerings that are built on vintage and retro styles from their brands’ heritage. Nike traditionally has focused on performance looks and its relationship with athletes. However, in recent years, it has brought more fashion-forward looks into its women’s performance offerings with items such as corset tops and shrug sweaters. At the same time, the company has expanded outside its core performance sport business with the acquisitions of Starter, which brings it into the mass channel, and upscale accessories brand Cole Haan.

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